Dubai fund buys £800m London attraction

Dubai International Capital has completed its first private equity deal, acquiring the Tussauds Group from Charterhouse Capital Partners for £800m.

European private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners has sold UK theme park and waxwork museum operator Tussauds Group to Dubai International Capital (DIC) for £800 million (€1.2 billion; $1.5 billion).

Charterhouse bought Tussauds from the Pearson media group in 1998 for £352 million. The business was recapitalised last year after offers from UK buyout firms BC Partners and Permira plus French group PAI and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts fell short of the £900 million asking price.

The Tussauds Group operates the eponymous waxworks museum in London and a number of theme parks in the UK, as well as part-owning the London Eye overlooking the Thames.

The transaction is the first private equity deal for DIC since its establishment in October 2004 as the investment arm of state-owned Dubai Holding.

In January DIC bought a 2 percent stake in German luxury car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler for approximately $1 billion.

In related news, an affiliate of Dubai Holding has also just announced the acquisition of 21,000 rental apartments in the Southern US for $1 billion, the largest acquisition of apartment buildings in the country in the last four years.

DIC is headed up by chairman Mohammed al-Gergawi. Chief executive officer Sameer Al Ansari leads a 12-strong professional team based in Dubai.

In a recent interview with sister publication Private Equity International, al Ansari said that outside the Middle East, the firm would make some direct investments and also invest through and alongside larger private equity groups.

The firm recently committed $100 million to Washington-headquartered Carlyle Group’s fourth US buyout fund, which held an initial close on $5 billion in December.